HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (June 17, 2016) -- While
most first round matches Friday at Bear Creek Golf Club
finished before reaching the 18th hole, Tripp French of
Columbia and Nick Russell of Hilton Head Island needed
25 holes to decide the outcome. French emerged
victorious from the marathon of a match.
No. 1 match play seed Riley Schank of Bluffton
advanced to the Round of 16 by beating No. 32 seed
Josh Fickes of Beaufort 5 & 4. Schank grabbed an early
two-up lead thru two holes and never relinquished it. “I
just kept it in play,” Schank said of his victory.
2009 Carolinas Mid-Amateur champion Jarrett
Grimes of Columbia used a similar mindset in his first
round match against Jonathan Phillips of Hardeeville.
match play, you play off of your opponent,” said
“Par is a good score on this course. You can win holes
with par.” In one of the few first round upsets, No. 24
seed Grimes defeated 9th seeded Phillips 4 & 2.
No. 16 seed John O’Brien of Columbia defeated No.
17 seed Drake Cassidy of Hartsville 2 up. O’Brien was
one down heading into their 15th hole before making
birdies on three of the final four holes to win. O’Brien
knows the importance of being in the fairway to hit
greens in regulation. Earlier this year, O’Brien nearly
won a qualifier for the Web.com Tour Rex Hospital
O'Brien earned a date with the medalist in the first
afternoon match. The 16-seed used the momentum he
generated in his Round of 32 match to jump out to an
early lead over the stroke play medalist. "After making
birdie on four of the last five in my morning match, I
had this mentality that I don't care who I am playing
and that mindset is tough to beat." O'Brien said.
The Columbia resident won two of the first three
holes to set the tone early in the match. O'Brien was
able to extend his lead to four on the par-5, No. 13.
O'Brien took advantage of being in the driver's seat and
forced Schank to make birdies to get back in the match.
The one-seed began to do just that. “On No. 14 he
holed a 50-footer for birdie to beat me. The next hole
my 9-iron got caught in the wind or something and
ended up in the bunker and he won that one too."
O'Brien explained. O'Brien maintained his composure
and closed out Schank 3 & 2.
Connor Bruns of Duncan was another victorious
higher seed in the Round of 16. Bruns earned the No.
12 seed but managed to upend the fifth-seed Matt
O'Quinn of Beaufort. The Furman product used four
straight birdies to take control of the match. "I made
birdie on four after taking advantage of a good shot.
Then I chipped in on No. 5. Good tee shots and good
iron shots kept giving me great looks." Bruns said.
The Paladin recognized the importance of getting
the course early after closing out the match 6 & 5, "It is
really nice to be able to out of the heat and go watch
the U.S. Open."
Fellow Furman golfer Bryce Howell had to wait
nearly three hours to face the winner of the 25 hole
gauntlet. The final match of the day was worth the wait.
Despite playing all day in triple digit temperatures,
French refused to go down without a fight. "Honestly I
was just trying to make it through the round, I was
pretty tired," French explained. Howell was up to the
challenge and held a two-up lead going into No. 16. For
the 9th time Friday French stepped on the tee knowing
he could not lose another hole. "I just really wanted to
win," French said. He did just that. The Columbia
resident evened the match by winning Nos. 16 and 17.
French knocked in a downhill five footer for birdie to win
the match 1 up on his 43rd hole of the day. "Hopefully I
can close out a match sooner tomorrow." French joked
after finishing the marathon.
View results for South Carolina Amateur Match Play Golf Championship